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Instant analysis: Clippers snap Jazz win streak in down-to-the-wire game

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, is defended by Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
Kelvin Kuo, Associated Press

The Utah Jazz had its win streak snapped in Los Angeles on Friday night, losing 116-112 to the Clippers.

High Notes

  • Two days ago the Clippers injury report was basically the starting lineup and Mike Conley had missed his sixth straight game. Just when we thought this Clippers-Jazz matchup was a wasted opportunity, they both came back in full force. Conley returned and the Clippers had Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Nicolas Batum back in the lineup, so we all knew from the get-go that it was going to be an excellent game.
  • The best thing about this game is thinking about how great a best-of-seven game series would be between these two teams as a Western Conference Finals matchup. These teams would be a lot of fun to watch.
  • Here’s the thing, the fact that the Jazz were right there through the second half and at the end of the game even though it wasn’t a great shooting night and there are plenty of other things they could have cleaned up should be incredibly encouraging. This was probably the toughest test the Jazz have faced this season and they were right there.

“We’re trying to get better, and that’s where our mindset is. As disappointed as you are that you don’t win the game, this is another situation that we want to take and use to get better.” —Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

  • The Clippers defense did a great job, especially through the first half of limiting the Jazz from the 3-point line and using their switching versatility to keep the Jazz out of their normal actions. Meanwhile the Jazz were playing pretty good defense too, the problem was the Clippers were hitting a lot of midrange shots.
  • As the Jazz were struggling through the first half, they got a lot of help from Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic to keep the Clippers from turning this into a blowout. Those two combined for 21 points in the first half and it was much needed for the Jazz.
  • Donovan Mitchell really came back impressively in the second half with 29 of his 35 points in the second half including some really clutch shooting right at the end. The Jazz came up short but it was good to see Mitchell get his bounce and rhythm back after having a tough go through the first 24 minutes with Patrick Beverley hounding him.

Low Notes

  • The Clippers had 11 offensive rebounds, but none as frustrating for the Jazz as the two consecutive offensive boards that Leonard grabbed late in the fourth quarter that pretty much sealed the victory for the Clippers. It’s not just that Leonard got the rebounds, but he got them in traffic when the Jazz should have done a better job at getting in position.

“We lost the game, I would say, on the boards. It was second-chance points that really hurt us. If you look at the overall game we played solid defense throughout, but they just came out there and got the extra boards and rebounds and we just got to do a better job of that.” —Donovan Mitchell

  • As I said above, most of the low notes and the mistakes that the Jazz made are mistakes that can be fixed which is a good thing. The hope is that they’re able to clean those things up before the playoffs come around
  • There were a couple of things that happened that should be a little concerning though. When the Clippers had both George and Leonard sitting through a stretch in the fourth quarter, the Jazz had a chance to close the gap and even take the lead, but they didn’t. They need to be able to kick into a higher gear and capitalize on those moments.
  • When the Clippers went with a smaller lineup the Jazz were not great, they ended up leaving Beverley and Marcus Morris wide open for shots and didn’t rotate quick enough to make a difference on the defensive end.

Flat Notes

  • All of Los Angeles’s best players had been out for multiple days and came into the game incredibly well rested. It’s hard to go up against a hungry, talented team who is also battling to be the No. 1 seed in the West, who don’t want to lose twice in a row to the same team, and who also have fresh legs.

“It’s a very good team. They came out rested, they came out ready and it felt like a playoff game — the intensity, the tough shots that they were making all night. It was a good opportunity for us to just keep getting better.” —Rudy Gobert

  • Rudy Gobert didn’t go up strong with the ball until the third quarter and missed multiple putbacks. Rather than go up strong he flailed and expected to get foul calls, put other players in bad positions by complaining to the officials and had quite a few weak rebounding efforts. It wasn’t all bad and there were obviously some classic defensive moments from Gobert that were great, but especially when the Jazz play the top tier teams in the league, Gobert has to be stronger at the rim.